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A new report from the Scottish Funding Council shows that colleges in Scotland exceeded last year’s annual target for providing learning and teaching despite the challenges they faced as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to the report, College Statistics 2019-20, colleges exceeded the Scottish Government’s 2019-20 target by almost 1,400 FTEs (full-time equivalents) – a key measure of college performance. Although the report points to the challenges faced by the sector at the start of the pandemic, colleges adapted to changing circumstances, moving swiftly to digital learning and online recruitment.

The report also draws attention to population changes currently affecting the number of young people going to college in Scotland. The last decade has seen a decrease in the number of Scottish 18 to 19 year olds of almost 14 per cent. Despite the decreasing demographic, colleges remain an attractive option for young people, with the proportion of 18 to 19 year olds participating in full-time college education remaining stable. In the last academic year, one in five young Scots in that age bracket was a full-time college student.

Additionally, the report highlights that courses related to medicine, health care and health and safety account for the greatest proportion of learning activity, increasing by 2.8 percentage points this year and continuing a trend that began in 2010. This means colleges are well placed to play their part in addressing the challenges that have been brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, as recipients of additional funding this year from Scottish Government initiatives such as the Young Person’s Guarantee and the National Transition Training Fund, colleges will play a vital role in Scotland’s economic recovery.

Martin Boyle, Director of Policy, Insight and Analytics at the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“It is a fantastic achievement for colleges to have met their student number target at the same time as balancing so many other issues resulting from the pandemic. Not only did they respond to the challenges of providing online learning but they also continued to enroll students through innovations such as virtual online open days and online enrolment.

“Colleges are currently working across their communities with employers, local government, employer representatives and others to support economic recovery both during and after the pandemic as well as playing an important role in initiatives such as the Young Person’s Guarantee and the National Transition Training Fund.”

See full details of the new report, College Statistics 2019-20.